Residents to be vigilant as dengue peak season approaches, mosquito breeding spots increase

SINGAPORE- The number of dengue cases reported this year may have gone down, but residents are urged to stay vigilant in the fight against dengue as its peak season approaches.

Between January and March this year, there were 2,159 cases of dengue reported - 39 per cent lower compared to the same period last year, according to figures from the National Environment Agency(NEA).

However, dengue "still remains a threat", said Ms Grace Fu, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the launch of the "Do the Mozzie Wipeout" Campaign at Bukit Batok Neighbourhood Centre on Sunday.

The NEA has detected an increase of about 80 per cent in the number of Aedes mosquito breeding habitats found in homes between February and March this year. Breeding spots found in homes include containers and flower pot plates or trays.

"An increase in Aedes mosquitoes due to more breeding habitats could lead to a surge in dengue cases in the next few months as we enter the traditional peak season," said Ms Fu. "As it is, we already see usually higher rates of dengue during the warmer months of June to October."

The warmer months of June to October usually see a higher number of dengue cases due to accelerated breeding and maturation cycles for the Aedes mosquitoes and shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus.

To combat dengue, the NEA is also exploring the use of a biological control method known as Wolbachia. The use of Wolbachia-carrying male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which do not bite or transmit the disease, could help to suppress the Aedes mosquito population here.

The NEA had earlier called for a tender for consultants to assess the environmental and social impact of using this technology.

The tender closed on April 16 and the study will take up to eight months to be completed from the award of the tender, said the NEA.

Ms Fu said that while the technology is still being explored, getting rid of mosquito breeding habitats and spraying of insecticides to control the population still remain key.

"NEA or the Government cannot eliminate all mosquito breeding habitats," she said. "We need everyone of you.... to do (your) part in order for our overall dengue control efforts to be effective."

Aside from the main launch event at Bukit Batok, community events at North-West, South-East, North-East and Central regions were also held on Sunday to educate residents and other stakeholders on dengue prevention.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg